Background & Objectives: This presentation reports on the findings of a Qatar National Research Fund-sponsored study that is the first of its kind in the Gulf. Through a survey, the study examines the demographics, cost, migration arrangements, and the living and working conditions of low-income migrant workers in Qatar. Although much has been written about the problems and challenges of migrant workers in the Gulf, these quantitative data are the first of their kind in the larger area of migration studies in the Gulf. Our presentation seeks to provide an overview of the findings, with more in-depth discussion of the findings that complement and challenge our ethnographically-derived findings to date. Methods: Utilizing a sampling frame derived from utility records, we constructed a random sample of 1,189 low-income transnational labor migrants in Qatar's worker accommodations and other migrant dwellings. The administered survey explores the problems and challenges labor migrants oftentimes encounter in the Gulf States, with topical sections exploring labor brokerage, wages, housing, health, migrant finances, and living and working conditions in general. Results: The findings suggest that while labor migrants in Qatar face a similar regime of structures, practices, and challenges, there is significant variation within the total population of low-income labor migrants, with nationality and ethnicity playing the most significant role in shaping the migrant experience. For example, basic salaries for low-income workers from the Philippines and Egypt were substantially higher than the lowest earning nationalities. Arab low-income migrants also work fewer days per week, live in slightly less crowded conditions, and, unlike their South Asian counterparts, report no problems with salary withholding. Conclusions: Although our findings generally confirm the conclusions others have produced via small-scale, anecdotal, or non-representative samples in regard to the general characteristics of the population and the challenges they face, we also present several surprising findings that challenge conventional knowledge about labor migration in Qatar and the GCC at large.


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